The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra - Adversity is the Greatest Chance to Transform One's Karma

Devadatta was the foremost good friend to the Thus Come One Shakyamuni. In this age as well, it is not one’s allies but one’s powerful enemies who assist one’s progress.

(Passage from “The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p770)

This letter was written in March 1276 from Mount Minobu when Nichiren Daishonin was 55 years old and addressed to the lay nun Konichi, a widow who lived in Awa (present day Chiba Prefecture).

Also known as sage Konichi, she was converted together with her husband to the Daishonin’s teachings through her son, who had become a disciple of the Daishonin earlier.

Although she lost both her husband and son one after another sometime after her conversion, she overcame her deep sorrows through the constant and wholehearted encouragement from Nichiren Daishonin, and remained a sincere believer to the end of her life.

This letter gives an autobiographical account covering the events if an important period in Nichiren Daishonin’s life spanning over nine years (1268 to 1276) – from the time shortly before the Tatsunokuchi Persecution through his two-and-a-half-year exile on Sado Island and to his eventual retirement to Mount Minobu. In the course of his struggles over this period of nine years, the Daishonin overcame major consecutive persecutions and waged a fierce battle against the three powerful enemies, thereby fulfilling the predictions in the Lotus Sutra concerning its votary and establishing him as the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, in both word and deed.

The above passage is the portion where the Daishonin stated that Devadatta, who persecuted Shakyamuni Buddha time and again, was the foremost good friend to Shakyamuni as it was he who proved the genuine greatness of Shakyamuni. If we look at our secular world today, we would find that in most cases, it is one’s enemy rather than one’s ally who would help one grow and develop as an individual. Thus, the Daishonin taught that powerful enemies who pose as great obstacles ultimately are one’s good friends.

SGI President Ikeda once said in his guidance, “Because we encounter unexpected trials and tribulations in life, we can grow as individual human beings. Only when one emerge victorious against a powerful enemy can one develop inner strength. No matter what adversities happen in our lives, lets challenge them all with inner strength, telling ourselves, ‘Yes! This is my chance to transform my karma!’ As long as we confront obstacles in life positively, we have much to gain from this experience and establish a life of greater value creation.”

Just as President Ikeda said, no matter what happens in life, let us regard them all as our foremost good friend (positive influence) and courageously challenge and overcome them all. Only by doing so can we enjoy a life of genuine happiness and victory.


Mrs Fukiko Nakagoshi, a WD assistant zone leader in Kochi Prefecture, is one who has been dedicating her entire life for the happiness of others. Her sincerity has moved many and has earned her the trust of the people in her community.

Her husband, who ran a business in the timber industry, was converted to Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism first. Mrs Nakagoshi was converted after him in 1966.

As the couple lived in a conservative village, they were criticized and verbally abused about their practice of faith. However, they continued to persevere in their practice amidst such harsh circumstances. During the initial stages of their practice, her husband’s business was not doing well. On top of this, he had to shoulder a huge amount of debt by acting as a guarantor to a friend who failed to pay off a loan. Their livelihood was at stake as their financial situation worsened with the passage of time.

Amidst such circumstances, Mrs Nakagoshi told herself, “I must never run away from this problem. I’ll be a loser if I do so. I must continue living with pride as a member of the Soka Gakkai. I must win the trust of the people in my community through overcoming this difficulty.” Based on this resolve, she chanted daimoku earnestly and strove even more vigorously with the sincere prayer to transform her family karma and to contribute to the widespread propagation of the Daishonin’s Buddhism in her community.

As a Women Division chapter leader, she devoted her entire being in promoting propagation activities and the subscription of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai daily organ paper. At the same time, she actively contributed whenever she could to non-Gakkai activities organized by the town councils in her community. Her husband would rush down to help solve any problems for anyone they knew; regardless of whether they were Soka Gakkai members. In the meantime, the couple continued to offer sincere prayers.

Their contributions to the community were eventually recognized and they were both selected to become health promotion committee members in their town council.

Mrs Nakagoshi served as chairperson of the Women’s Association over a period of eight years, and actively contributed with her chapter members as volunteers to bring great cheer and vigour to the community. As the community’s trust in Mrs Nakagoshi grew, the number of people subscribing to the Seikyo Shimbun increased.

She regarded each and everyone in her community as her foremost good friend, whether they were friendly or hostile to her.

In recent years, more than 100 friends would travel all the way from distant mountains and valleys to attend the Women Division General Meeting organized by her district. It has become an annual affair and the general meeting never failed to serve as a platform to enhance understanding towards the SGI and to establish ties of goodwill and friendship.

In July 2006, Mrs Nakagoshi celebrated her 40th anniversary of her conversion by renovating her home to be used for SGI activities. With well-established facilities and a large area for meeting purposes, video screening of President Ikeda’s guidance at the monthly SGI headquarter leaders meeting began at her home through Internet distribution from September 2006 onwards.

Many friends who came for the screening were deeply impressed. Mrs Nakagoshi was overwhelmed by emotions, recollecting how she had struggled through the most difficult pioneering days.

For many years, the couple had been struggling to pay back the huge amount of debt and finally, in 2003, they managed to clear the debt completely. All her children are actively striving in the organization.

Her eldest son is working in a newspaper company, her younger son is a secondary school teacher while her eldest daughter is running a beauty salon. Mrs Nakagoshi has certainly welcomed the “spring” in her life by regarding everything that happened in her life as her foremost good friends.

Key points of the Gosho passage:
1. Buddhism defines good friends as good influences that assist us in strengthening our faith and bringing forth our state of Buddhahood. Ironically, when we ask ourselves what it is that help us the most in deepening our faith, we find that it is bad circumstances and people. Because they give us so much troubles and worries, they actually motivate us to chant lots of daimoku and help us in our human revolution. That is why the Daishonin stated that Devadatta was Shakyamuni’s good friend and he referred to powerful enemies as our good friends.

2. Conversely, when circumstances become too good or comfortable, they can make us lazy and complacent and cause us to relax in our practice and weaken our faith.

3. We can make anything, even our sufferings and enemies, into our good friends provided we have strong faith to win over them. So no matter what happens in life, lets us regard them as our foremost good friends and courageously challenge and overcome them by telling ourselves, “I will deepen my faith even more”.

Translated and adapted from an article written by Kumiko Kondo, Women Division Study Chief for Kochi Prefecture, published in the March 2007 issue of The Daibyakurange, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.